Authorities say a man convicted of murder that escaped from a New Brunswick prison for 24 hours is back in custody.

Steven Bugden, 45, was not present when inmates were counted at the multi-level facility at Dorchester Penitentiary at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, according to Sackville RCMP. A warrant was then issued for his arrest.

Police say correctional officers searched the facility, while RCMP officers searched the surrounding area with the assistance of a police dog.

Bugden was last seen at 4 p.m. Wednesday in the condo where he lived with four other inmates. His escape is being described as a “walk-out” by penitentiary management, who say there aren’t any walls between the condos for low-risk offenders and the outside world.

In a news release Thursday night, the RCMP said Bugden was arrested in between Dorchester and Sackville, N.B.

Officials at the facility say Bugden had been deemed a low risk to public safety, as he hadn’t had a single incident until his recent escape.

Police spent much of Thursday combing the area around the facility with dogs, and are now widening their scope. They say they’re also getting in touch with his family and looking into the possibility that he might have hitched a ride out of the area.

“Because there's been some time elapsed, we're more focused (on) talking to people, trying to locate people who might know him and might have been in contact with him,” Sgt. Paul Gagne of Southeast District RCMP, told reporters on Thursday.

Police say Bugden could be charged with being unlawfully at large.

Bugden was sentenced to life in prison for the second-degree murder of 22-year-old Angela Tong in Ottawa in 1997. Bugden pleaded guilty to stabbing Tong 19 times at an Ottawa hotel and hiding her body in a duffle bag.

Those close to Tong wonder how a man convicted of murder could ever be allowed to live in a minimum-security facility.

“This is somebody who found it in his heart to stab a really beautiful, gentle person 19 times, and I find it hard to believe he could ever be considered not a threat to the public,” Kristine Kruszelnicki, a friend of Tong’s, told CTV Ottawa.

In a Facebook group dedicated to memories of Tong, friends were warning each other to keep an eye out if Bugden tried to make his way back to the Ottawa area.

Residents of the Dorchester community were also shocked to hear of Bugden’s escape, and said they shouldn’t have had to find out through the news the next day.

“He's been gone all night and then half of the day today. I mean, people could be out walking, kids are out playing, and we know nothing, absolutely nothing about this,” Teena Adams, a Dorchester resident, told CTV Atlantic.

“That's a serious crime, what he did. People should be alerted.”

Fellow Dorchester resident Deborah Jollimore wants local town council to set up a system for correctional officers to alert the public of prison escapees.

“They should have told us so that we could be prepared or made better choices as to whether or not we let our kids out to play today,” Jollimore said.

Documents from Bugden’s latest parole hearing in April 2009 show his request for day parole and temporary unescorted absences was ultimately denied after the board questioned his credibility and risk of re-offending. The same report also noted, however, that Bugden would be a good candidate for a minimum-security facility.

With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke and The Canadian Press